COUNCILLORS in East Lancashire have criticised plans to reduce the number of official documents translated into foreign languages. This comes as communities secretary Eric Pickles said local authorities should only produce material in other languages in emergencies. In a statement to Parliament, the minister said widespread translation was expensive and undermined work to integrate non-English speaking immigrants into communities.
However Julie Cooper, leader of Burnley Council, and Yusuf Jan Virmani, Blackburn with Darwen’s executive member for neighbourhoods, housing and customer services, stressed how important the service is. Mrs Cooper was quoted as saying: “If communicating with our residents is wasteful, Eric Pickles must live in another world to the rest of us.
“But I don’t think we do nearly enough for community members whose English isn’t very strong.”
Blackburn runs the same process to choose what to translate, a service Coun Virmani believes is absolutely necessary. He said: “I don’t agree with him at all, there’s a real need for elderly people who are too old to learn English to have accessible services.